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Nice video shows policing of the future

Computer surveillance with a human face

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Nice Systems, the Israeli firm trying to sell extreme surveillance software to the British police, has put out a promotional video depicting the way our friendly bobbies will police our communities a year from now - if they use its latest software.

It opens* with a lonely old lady twitching a curtain over a street where hooded youths are hanging around. Shouldn't they be at the scout hut? Or doing their homework? The police must know about this.

"There's a gang outside in the street. I really don't like the look of them. I'm sure they're up to no good," she tells the police operator.

The operator's extreme intelligence software leaps into action, plugging him into the street's CCTV cameras and reckoning that the youths must indeed be up to no good.

They seem to be hanging around; they are wearing hoods; looking shifty. The computer labels their behaviour for the police record that will be shown in court: "Crowd accumulation" and "loitering".

The anxious old lady and spy network make quite a team. But they need to act quickly; the curtain is twitching so frantically it is bound to alert the youths to the intelligence net closing about them.

The computer checks their CCTV images against the police mugshot database. Bingo! We've got a match. One of them has been spooked: "suspect ID 62581893" is flashed on the screen.

But then, what's this? The anxious old lady thinks she's spotted a gun. Her poor old eyes must be failing. It looks more like a chair leg, or a mini Maglite, or a dildo. Perhaps the lads are off for a spot of cottaging?

There's only one way to be sure and it does not include the words reasonable or doubt. The computer has clocked her use of the word "gun". While we've been wasting time deliberating wet and woolly liberal ideas such as the burden of proof or the presumption of innocence or community... the police have already dispatched an armed unit.

A chase ensues. The suspects have commandeered a stolen car. What more proof do you need? Any innocent citizen, with a crack troop of armed police bearing down on them, would stay put and stick their hands up. British armed police are renowned for their judgement and restraint. Only the guilty leggit.

Fortunately, we can track them with satellites. From the police control room, we see a bird's eye view map illustrated with natty little icons illustrating things that the spook satellite is tracking: numerous flashing blue squares mark the police units that are closing in from all sides on that one little red square that marks the baddies in their car, which doesn't look like it's going to get very far.

The tracking system, provided by Sunguard for use in police control rooms today, shows the police net closing tight around the fleeing suspects. The police are all tracked by the global positioning system links in their radios and cars. The baddies are betrayed by their in-car GPS navigator.

Nice Systems call this "policing with a more human face".®

* The events and quotes in this article are a faithful description of Nice Systems' promotional video.

Nice refused us permission to reproduce the Video. It was not for public consumption, they said, but rather only intended to be viewed by police. Course, if you want to know more, you can always ask a policeman.

Top three mobile application threats

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